Director: Tony Kaye
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo
Plot: A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.
Edward Norton had a strained relationship with the director Tony Kaye.
At one point, relations between Kaye and New Line became so tense that he tried to improve the karma by bringing a rabbi, a priest, and a Tibetan Buddhist monk with him to a meeting with New Line executives.
Kaye tried to have his name removed from the credits, using instead the name "Alan Smithee," the official pseudonym used by Hollywood directors who disown their films. The Directors Guild of America wouldn't let him, however, since the Smithee credit comes with an agreement not to criticize the film or to explain why the filmmaker wanted to disavow the project.
Edward Norton edited the final cut of the film which was 20 minutes longer than the director's cut. Tony Kaye disagreed with the changes and accused Edward Norton of increasing his screentime.
Having burned most of his bridges in Hollywood, Kaye found work when his pal Brando hired him to direct "Lying for a Living," a series of seminars starring the legendary actor in which he'd teach viewers how to use the techniques of acting to negotiate everyday real-life situations. But Kaye showed up for work the first day dressed as Osama bin Laden -- this was in November 2001, just weeks after 9/11 -- a gag that everyone present found more appalling than funny. Kaye was soon off the project.
Kaye chronicled much of his off-camera battle over "American History X" on video. He planned to compile it all into a movie to be called "Humpty Dumpty"
Edward Norton turned down movie Saving Private Ryan to do American History X.
The character Derek Vinyard is based on real life skinhead Frank Meeink.
The character of Cameron Alexander is based on Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), an extremist white supremacy group based in southern California.
The original ending of the movie was of character Derek Vinyard standing in front of a mirror, shaving his head after Danny Vinyard was shot. This hinted that Derek was going to return back to his old life as a skinhead, but was removed after actor Edward Norton objected.
Edward Norton gained 25 pounds of muscle for the role.